OAKLAND – Dallas Braden definitely owns the mound now.
Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history on Sunday, shutting down the majors’ hottest team and leading the Oakland Athletics to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Braden threw his arms in the air after Gabe Kapler grounded out to shortstop for the final out, his simmering feud with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez merely a footnote to the first perfect game for Oakland in 42 years.
The closest the Rays got to a hit was Jason Bartlett’s liner to third leading off the game. Evan Longoria tried to bunt leading off the fifth, drawing boos from the small crowd.
“Pretty cool,” Braden said. “I don’t know what to think about it just yet. There’s definitely a select group. I’d like to have a career more than today.”
Before this gem, Braden was best known for his enraged reaction to Rodriguez walking across the mound April 22. Still angry after the game, he told the slugger “to go do laps in the bullpen” if he wanted to traipse across a mound.
The squabble was still simmering last week. On Friday in Boston, Rodriguez said he didn’t want to extend Braden’s “extra 15 minutes of fame.”
A-Rod struck a far more conciliatory tone Sunday.
“I’ve learned in my career that it’s always better to be remembered for some of the good things you do on the field, and good for him,” Rodriguez said before facing Boston. “He threw a perfect game. And, even better, he beat the Rays.”
That said, Braden’s grandmother may have gotten the last word:
“Let’s forget it, uh huh –and stick it, A-Rod,” said a chuckling Peggy Lindsey, who was in the stands watching.
It was the majors’ first perfect game since Mark Buehrle did it for the White Sox against the Rays on July 23, and the second no-hitter this season after Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez accomplished it in Atlanta on April 17.
“I’m a bad omen. That’s the third perfect game and fourth no-hitter I’ve been on the wrong side of,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “If you want to see another one, just follow me around.”
Braden pitched the A’s first perfect game since Hall of Famer Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s gem on May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. Only 6,298 were there to witness it. Sunday’s crowd at the Coliseum wasn’t much better: 12,228.
Braden (4-2) wasn’t fazed by anything against a Rays team that lost on the road for just the third time this year. He struck out six in the improbable 109-pitch performance, throwing 77 strikes in his 53rd career start and first complete game.
Pitchers who threw complete perfect games in the majors in the past 25 years:
Oakland 4, Tampa Bay 0
Chicago (AL) 5, Tampa Bay 0
Arizona 2, Atlanta 0
New York (AL) 6, Montreal 0
New York (AL) 4, Minnesota 0
Texas 4, California 0
Montreal 2, Los Angeles (NL) 0
Cincinnati 1, Los Angeles (NL) 0